SOFTBALL- Variant of baseball played with a larger ball on a smaller field. Invented in 1888 in Chicago as an indoor game, it was at various times called indoor baseball, mush ball, playground, softbund ball, kitten ball, and, because it was also played by women, ladies' baseball.
The earliest known softball game was played in Chicago, Illinois on Thanksgiving Day, 1887. It took place at the Farragut Boat Club to hear the outcome of the Yale and Harvard football game. When the score was announced and bets were settled, a Yale alumnus threw a boxing glove at a Harvard supporter. The other person grabbed a stick and swung at it. George Hancock called out "Play ball!" and the game began, with the boxing glove tightened into a ball, a broom handle serving as a bat. This first contest ended with a score of 41-40. The ball, being soft, was fielded barehanded.
George Hancock is credited as the game's inventor for his development of ball and an undersized bat in the next week. The Farragut Club soon set rules for the game, which spread quickly to outsiders. Envisioned as a way for baseball players to maintain their skills during the winter, the sport was called "Indoor Baseball". Under the name of "Indoor-Outdoor", the game moved outside in the next year, and the first rules were published in 1889.
In 1895 Lewis Rober, Sr. of Minneapolis organized outdoor games as exercise for firefighters; this game was known as kitten ball (after the first team to play it), lemon ball, or diamond ball. Rober's version of the game used a ball 12 inches (305 mm) in circumference, rather than the 16-inch (406 mm) ball used by the Farragut club, and eventually the Minneapolis ball prevailed, although the dimenscluded "mush ball", and "pumpkin ball".) The name softball had spread across the United States by 1930.By the 1930s, similar sports with different rules and names were being played all over the United States and Canada. The formation of the Joint Rules Committee on Softball in 1934 standardized the rules and naming throughout the United States.
Sixteen-inch softball, also sometimes referred to as "mushball" or "super-slow pitch", is a direct descendant of Hancock's original game. Defensive players are not allowed to wear fielding gloves. Sixteen-inch softball is played extensively in Chicago, where devotees such as the late Mike Royko consider it the "real" game, and New Orleans. In New Orleans, sixteen-inch softball is called "Cabbage Ball" and is a popular team sport in area elementary and high schools.
By the 1940s, fast pitching began to dominate the game. Although slow pitch was present at the 1933 World's Fair, the main course of action taken was to lengthen the pitching distance. Slow pitch achieved formal recognition in 1953 when it was added to the program of the Amateur Softball Association, and within a decade had surpassed fast pitch in popularity.
The first British women's softball league was established in 1952.
In 1991, women's fast-pitch softball was selected to debut at the 1996 Summer Olympics. The 1996 Olympics also marked a key era in the introduction of technology in softball; the IOC funded a landmark biomechanical study on pitching during the games.
MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENTS
-Ball- The size of the ball varies according to the classification of play; the permitted circumferences in international play are 12±0.125 in (30.5±0.3 cm), in weight between 6.25 oz (178 g) and 7.0 oz (198.4 g) in fast pitch; 11±0.125 in (29.7±0.3 cm), weight between 5.875 oz (166.5 g) and 6.125 oz (173.6 g) in slow pitch. For comparison, under the current rules of Major League Baseball, a baseball weighs between 5 and 51⁄4 ounces (142 and 149 g), and is 9 to 91⁄4inches (229–235 mm) in circumference (27⁄8–3 in or 73–76 mm in diameter).  A 12-inch circumference ball is generally used in slow pitch; although in rare cases some leagues (especially recreational...
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